I remember in Belfast the Christmas before last, when pipes froze and burst, water poured into streets, and many of us were without water for days, relying on bottled water that we had to collect from water stations.  Many people said at the time, and I was one, ho w it made them appreciate water was not to be taken for granted.   But it has taken living here and observing how people live in a country that experiences serious droughts for it to be brought home to me what a precious resource water is.


For a start, the Horn of Africa is semi-arid, i.e. there is very little rain anyway. Most of Somaliland receives as little as 50 to 150 millimetres of rain annually.  Ireland’s annual rainfall is nearer 1000 mm a year (and more in Connemara!).  Adan (the driver with Nagaad and the source of much of my information) thinks it has got drier over the past few decades, and Somaliland is slowly becoming more like a desert.  When the rain does come, in April and May, its torrential, but I haven’t experienced any yet and wonder about driving on these now dusty dirt roads after torrential rain! On the way to and from work every day, we cross a bridge over what looks like a dried up riverbed, between 50 and 100 yards wide.  In fact it’s a flood runoff for the rains when they do come. The rain has been known to sweep away the temporary shelters that internally displaced people (IDPs) live in, and the downpours can be extremely dangerous.  They say this area after a rainfall will be a raging torrent of water and then, within hours, the water has disappeared.


The main sources of water in rural areas of Somaliland are the privately owned Barkeds (cemented water catchments), manually dug shallow wells and communal stock watering ponds.  All of these sources of water depend on a harvest of seasonal rainfall, which has been worsening year by year.  While in urban areas, groundwater is the main source of water for human and livestock consumption (the ubiquitous goats, and not forgetting the urban cattle that roam the streets).  I suppose no one worries about the camels!


Because of recurrent drought, there has been a huge population shift to Hargeisa and other urban areas from rural areas, and from areas where people have been internally displaced by the upheavals of war.  The steady increase in settlements of internally displaced people on the outskirts of the city makes it hard to keep track of population numbers, and the situation is growing beyond control.  Tensions between the IDP communities and the host communities have increased, particularly because of the water shortage.


The water infrastructure in Hargeisa was designed and built in the 1940s for a population of 150,000 people, relying on deep bore wells as major sources of water.  A survey of 127 government owned deep bore wells and other sources of water (not just in Hargeisa) were completed recently, and only about 40 percent of all existing wells are operational.  Adan complained that 60% of the national budget goes on security and maintaining the military, with no development strategy to address the water infrastructure, although I have read in the papers that there are plans to dig more wells in Hargeisa, funded by the EU.

But the fact is at least 45% of Hargeisa’s population of 1.2 million has no direct access to water at all.  So how do they manage?


Tankers fetch water daily from wells in two villages 30 or 40 kilometres outside Hargeisa and deliver it to houses and hotels (including the Ambassador) in the city and it is pumped into tanks. Alanye, a board member of Nagaad, explained to me that he and his family are dependent on a truck delivering water every week.  He pays $7 for five barrels of water, which last his family one week.  But his family is small, him and his wife, and two or three relatives.  In Somaliland, extended families are the norm, so it would be usual, he told me, for 12 people to share a household.  For most households then five barrels would only last 3-4 days.  Then there are sanitation issues because the water comes untreated from the wells.  The problem with water quality is pertinent.  Most of these families use this water for drinking, cooking and washing as well.  No water purification and treatment of water takes place here. Well owners wait for the wells to become full and once water comes to the surface they dip long tubes that take water to the trucks.




The water used for tea and coffee in Nagaad is the colour of weak tea; I have gone without a mid-morning drink since my first taste.


Many people cannot buy water from truck owners as they don’t have tanks.They rely on the donkey deliveries, pulling small tanks of water and delivering to people’s houses and small shops.





People bring their yellow plastic cans to be filled.  It’s women and children who fetch the water, including at night when it’s cooler and I’ve frequently seen teenage girls struggling to carry large yellow plastic canisters, women pushing wheelbarrows with several containers, and small children pulling containers along the road with string, making a game of it.

Note. Most of the photos here, are from Afrikan Sarvi online, a Horn of Africa Journal, plus some of the info.

Source: Joanna McMinn Blogspot


  1. Hargeisa is the Capital City of Somaliland Democratic Republic. Sadly the story of Koanna MCMinn
    blogspot is true. The sources of abundant water is not far away from the Capital City but it's just
    that due to lacking proper planning and negligence on the part of both the Municipal and central
    Govts that not only the water crisis, but the roads, garbage waste, the Capital City's all needs
    to become a modernized and civilized, need no further emphasis!. Hopefully, maybe the new
    Engineer Mayor may become the real hallmark to take the City's modernization needs too seriously?

  2. Underground waters is most common source of water in Somaliland. The techniques utilized there are not quite sufficient nor suitable for human consumption. Somaliland needs to look at better ways for water sources , e.g. reverse osmosis (RO) systems should be considered in some coastal cities, Berbera maybe a good start for such a setup..

  3. That should be the next thing for Somalilands administration to handle water supply and purification. Better wells need to be dug and water needs to come under the government at least the majority of it, private companies might price gouge the public. Where I live in the United States the water is owned and distributed by the government, you still pay but its nothing like the prices of electricity where the private organizations run them.

  4. Somaliland is not capable of standing alone, the fact that they don't have any viable source of water is enough to set off all alarms for sensible people with basic common sense. But the separatists are too busy crying and grieving and allowing emotions to hijack them. Unless intervened, they will commit the biggest genocide the world has ever seen in north Somalia by holding the civilians hostage.

    No water is no life, no industry, no jobs, no growth and separatists have no backup solution or plan B just cry and get "recognition".

    There are no water and people relay on buckets and donkeys.

    • Your President needs a Ugandan to hold his hand to go toilet in vila Moqadishu???

      Moqadishu is the World's biggest IDPS Camp right? 1.5Million Idps? where Rape victims get arrested for reporting the police officer who rapes them?

      I guess you have a viable Sovereignty that has it's airspace, Ocean and territory violated every day?

      Wow your country is perfect isn't it? Maybe you can teach the rest of Africa on Sovereignty issues???

      • I can see the day you guys wipe out the entire Isaaq population out because of your lies and isolations. No water, no food, no infrastructure, no taking the trash out———it is set to explode.

        Ugandans are in Mogadishu because southern Somalia has potential and money that can finance foreign troops whether be Africans or the US army, everyone is there. No one is gonna come to the north that can't even get one bucket of water.

        No interest. Keep begging. Keep grieving.

  5. Agreed cheers better city planning.

    The question is what is a cost effective way to get water to people? Should there be "waterhouses" or public fountains like the romans had? Sorry I just watched a documentary on that.

    How can we capture more rain water? What are our options when it comes to desalination, it used to be expensive but the costs are coming down.

    Lets not just focus on the problem but lets look for solutions! Thats what Landers are good at!

    • I still think that before going offshore the onshore should be explored? Somaliland is below
      sea level and there must be abundant resources of water somewhere closer to Hargeisa and
      throughtout inland of JSLD.

  6. The problem we have in Hargeisa is that, the water reserves in the area close to Hargeisa will not be enough to the capital which houses now about a million, and the deep water reservoirs is difficult to reach because there is a solid rock that prevents the current available rigs to penetrate. Furthermore, there is no enough money to buy the required equipment to reach the water that even, NASA proved it exists in Somaliland.

    There are about ten [10] newly dug wells at Xunbaweyne area, that needs to come on stream when the money EU earmarked for this project, reaches our hand, and hope that will reduce the problem, specially the south side of the capital. WAA LA DOOGIYE, YAAN LA DACAROON!

    • Dualeh bro you make good commonsense. Somaliland is below sea level and definitely there
      should be abundant resources of water underground or beneath? Don't listen to these hoodlums lol

  7. Mr Omar Duelah what can we do to get the equipment? What sort of numbers are we looking at? Can we get it cheaper somewhere else? Better yet can we build something that will allow us to get that water without having to buy equipment thats expensive.

    Can we challenge our young engineers to build something for us? Lets throw out some ideas here.

  8. Well before we talk about the equipment, there should data that will tell us, more of this rock. I believe oil rigs with diamond bits, can penetrate this. We can also make use of the data that oil companies exploring Somaliland collect from those area they are working on.

    I have heard that rivers from south flow beneath Hargeisa, there are traces to that. Imagine an area of 2 football grounds gaving-in, and a beavy noices of water flow is heard. I am not trying to speculate super natural here, but there are those who have seen and know that there are rivers flow under our feet in Hargeisa soundings.

  9. The only solution here is the future oil money.
    Somali population keeps growing and the amount
    of available water is not… Inchallah one day We Will take it directly from the sea !

  10. Why don't daroods have something nice to see? I look at the comments and 99% of those written by daroods are either insults, tribal or just pure unslamic. Every article i go to i see the darood mentality where thy insult people. When we take about the south, they insult them and insult mogadisho ( which is home to millions of daroodS). When we talk about somaliland, they insult issaqs and insult hargaisa. When we talk about djabouti, they insult the issa and djabouti.

    Why are darood so hateful when they are the weakest people in the horn in-terms of economy and militaristic power.

    • First look your own backyard before you comment, isaqs/cise also use insult words.

      Darood it's not weak as you wish they are six million strong live three different countries somalia,kenya,ethiopia. one of the biggest most expereince rebel in africa operates UNDER Darood Jaberti Ismail ( ONLF ) confronting the biggest army in AFRICA ethiopia. so, now you tell me Darood is weak militarly this is nonsense. YOUR still kind of half sleep saying "Mogadishu is home to millions of Darood", wrong, less than hundrand thousand live in mogadishu most of them reside either Puntland or Jubbaland.

  11. That rusty water drum is enough evidence of how bad things are. I only hope that the country gets enough help to dig itself out of doldrums soon. Those citizens deserve at least enough food and a clean water supply.

  12. Four years ago the Somaliland Red Crescent Society (SRCS)started a ceramic water filter factory known as Biyo Miire . This factory currently produces low cost filters in the area of Hargeisa between the airport and town. Filters are made from locally avaailable clays and are focused at communities with no access to clean water. You can learn more about this very progressive venture by visiting the facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/groups/potterswithoutbor… or by contacting the SRCS Hargeisa office

  13. . I only hope that the country gets enough help to dig itself out of doldrums soon. Those citizens deserve at least enough food and a clean water supply. bestwaterheaterreviews.org

  14. That corroded h2o drum is enough evidence of how bad things are. I only hope that the country gets enough help to dig itself out of doldrums soon. Those citizens deserve at least enough food and a clean drinking h2o.

  15. That corroded h2o drum is enough evidence of how bad things are. I only hope that the country gets enough help to dig itself out of doldrums soon. Those citizens deserve at least enough food and a clean drinking h2o.